Iliff Richardson was a US Navy Lieutenant assigned to PT 34 during the campaign in the Philippines. His boat was sunk in April 1942, and he ended up spending more than two years fighting with Philippine guerrillas against the Japanese occupation. He was decorated with the Silver Star and also given the rank of Major in the Philippine Army alongside his US Navy position. One of the things Richardson’s men did was assemble simple slam fire shotguns to ambush Japanese patrols as a source for better arms. When Richardson returned home to the US after the end of the war, he was something of a famous war hero – a book was written about his time in the Philippines, and a big Hollywood movie was also made about him.
In 1946, Richardson Industries was formed to produce and sell a civilian version of the shotgun that Richardson had famously used with his guerrillas. Two versions were mass produced, one with a vertical front grip and a “trigger” that actually functioned as a safety, and a simplified versions with just 6 parts that did away with the safety. The guns were marketed as utilitarian, economy, general-purpose guns suited for hunting or recreational skeet shooting. They were not well received, and the company dissolved in 1947. Whether the more complex design was the first or second is not clear, but I suspect the complex one came first, to be replaced by the simpler one both to reduce production cost and because the complex version is surprisingly counter-intuitive to use.
Having taken both guns out to the range, I have to say that I was very surprised by just how goofily fun the simple type is to shoot. Thanks to Mike Carrick from Arms Heritage magazine for the opportunity to film and shoot these!